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Geologists working on the island of Java using radar images have claimed, like many before them, that they have “located a mysterious ancient pyramid deep within a dense forest,” dating back to the mythological era of the lost super-civilization of Atlantis.
According to RIA Novosti, Andang Bakhtiar, a geologist from the oil company Maurel & Prom and his colleagues, “accidentally discovered one of the largest and potentially the most ancient man-made pyramid(s) in history, studying the slopes of mount Padang in the Western part of Java island,” reports an article in The Silver Post. (Note: A University has not been mentioned and The Silver Post is not a recognized academic outlet for peer reviewed research.)
Gunung Pagang site. (Mohammad Fadli / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
At a meeting of the American Geological Union the researchers said, “We believed that in the past this hill was some kind of building. It turns out, it extends far down, consisting of several layers and is actually the entire volume of the hill.” The researchers conducted excavations on “the slopes of the mountain” and said that they “filled it with radars and other devices” to detect “hidden voids and traces of ancient artifacts by changes in the electric or the magnetic resistance of the soil.”
Scanning Provides Proof?
They maintain that their scanning proves, “Much to their surprise” that a man-made structure “partly covered with soil and overgrown forest” was measured at “15 acres” and about “30 meters (98 feet)” high. The pyramid consists of “three parts built in the crater of an extinct volcano” at separate times. The first layer was lined with “similar blocks mixed with sand and radiocarbon analysis gives a date of “15,000 to 28,000 thousand years ago” and the upper layers were added about “8.3 and 3.5 thousand years ago.”
And with radar images indicating the existence of “cavities inside the pyramid,” the scientists are saying this might “indicate the presence of hidden rooms or partially recessed areas in the thickness of the hill structures.” The archaeologists concluded that “this proves that the pyramid was indeed a temple, not just dumping or “Observatory” as the famous Stonehenge.”
Fifth terrace of Gunung Padang Megalithic Site. (Beeyan / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Skeptics and 99% Of Scientists Are Having ‘None of It’
Since its discovery by Dutch colonists in 1914, the Gunung Padang mound has been regarded by ‘some’, as being the largest of several ancient megalithic sites in Indonesia. However, 99% of university professors of archaeology and geology will quickly tell you a megalith does not exist and the dating is an entire political hoax, as this Skeptic ink article clearly establishes.
While authors like Graham Hancock see this “pyramid” as hard evidence of an antediluvian civilization with high technology, in a probing and revealing July 2013 article titled, Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site , Michael Bachelard, a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a senior geologist at Indonesia's Centre for Geotechnical Research.
- Figurative Art Discovered Deep in Indonesian Cave is the Oldest in the World
- Record of ancient tsunamis found in Indonesia cave
Scenery around Mount Padang. (Ardy79 / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Proof of an Advanced Ancient Civilization?
Dr. Hilman said that Gunung Padang “could predate the next oldest [pyramid] by a dozen millenniums or more, suggesting an advanced ancient civilization inhabited Java “up to 20,000 years ago.” “It's crazy, but it's data” he added. Bachelard pointed out that Hilman’s idea was adopted by former activist turned politician and member of Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, Andy Arif. In fact, President Yudhoyono “was so impressed” with the early dating that he appointed a government taskforce to investigate further. Urging haste, he described the work as a "task of history … of important value for humanity.”
Journalist Bachelard said the whole ‘dating’ of the monument was a veiled "nationalistic quest” and respected volcanologist, Sutikno Bronto, commented “Danny Hilman is not a volcanologist. I am. Gunung Padang is simply the neck of a nearby volcano, not an ancient pyramid.” And this is the view of the greatest part of the archaeological community; that there is quite simply “nothing there,” it is all an illusion “keeping people in jobs.”
Thirty-four Indonesian Scientists are Questioning the Motives and Methods of the Hilman-Arif Team
As for the “carbon-dated cement between the stones,” by which geologist Andang Bakhtiar now, and Hilman in 2016 dated the site, Sutikno believes it is simply “the byproduct of a natural weathering process” - anything but ‘man-made.’ A skeptical archaeologist who remained anonymous in the Sydney Morning Herald article argued that in the Pawon cave in Padalarang, about 45 kilometers from Gunung Padang, bone tools were found which dated to about 7000 BC. If at 7000 BC bone tools were being used there, then “how did people from 20,000 BC have the technologies to build a pyramid?”
- Exploring the Mysterious Megaliths of the Bada Valley in Indonesia
- Hints of Ancient Symbolic Culture are Revealed in Indonesian Ice Age Art and Jewelry
One of several cliffs in Citatah close to the Pawon Cave. ( Ocyid X / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Speaking of Hilman’s dubious dating, the archaeologist added that he had, “found something, carbon-dated it, then it looks like they created a civilization around the period to explain their findings.” And if you are still hanging onto the idea of an Atlantean pyramid, then you are up against “Thirty-four Indonesian scientists” including leading archaeologists and geologists who all signed a petition “questioning the motives and methods of the Hilman-Arif team.”
Ingenious use of sticky rice mortar in Ancient China
Ancient Chinese culture has made great contributions to humanity. The ‘Four Great Inventions of China’ – the compass, gunpowder, paper, and printing – are still being used extensively today. “Sticky Rice-Lime Mortar” may be one of the latest additions to the list of ancient Chinese inventions.
In 2010, an article, entitled “Study of Sticky Rice−Lime Mortar Technology for the Restoration of Historical Masonry Construction” was published by the Accounts of Chemical Research . According to this article, the addition of sticky rice to lime mortar increased the strength of the latter as a binding material. The earliest record of this technique, according to the researchers, can be found in an encyclopaedia, the Tian Gong Kai Wu ( The Exploitation of the Works of Nature) , which was compiled by Song Yingqing during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). According to the archaeological evidence, however, the sticky rice-lime mortar technique was developed at a much earlier date, no later than the South-North Dynasty (386-589 AD), to be precise.
Perhaps the best part of this study is its practical function. After all, the aim of the research was to investigate whether sticky rice-lime mortar could be used for the “restoration of historical masonry construction”. Anyone involved in restoring ancient buildings would know that getting the right materials for a building that is being restored is of utmost importance. This is due to the fact that the bricks used in ancient buildings are softer than that used today. Consequently, pure mortar would have been too strong and may have ended up destroying the bricks. Hence, organic material would have been added to the mortar in order to soften it a little. By using ancient techniques in the restoration of ancient buildings, not only can historical accuracy be achieved, but the buildings themselves will also survive for a much longer time.
The ancient Chinese added sticky rice to mortar. Photo source .
In 2013, another study on Sticky Rice-Lime Mortar was published. This dealt with a specific site, and was entitled “ Investigation of sticky-rice lime mortar of the Horse Stopped Wall in Jiange ”. The researchers made a similar conclusion to the earlier study – that sticky rice-lime mortar was a good natural binding material. Furthermore, it was found that the micro-structure of this binding material, which is formed due to the interaction of the sticky rice and the calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), enabled the mortar to resist damages from the natural environment for hundreds of years.
One of the most interesting things that I found while doing the research for this article was the way this piece of news was presented by some of the Western media to its readers. For instance, the (rather misleading) headline used by The Telegraph was “Great Wall of China's strength 'comes from sticky rice’” . Perhaps, to a Western audience, the most iconic image of ancient China is the Great Wall. However, it may be pointed out that nowhere in the article is the Great Wall of China ever specifically mentioned. The “Ming dynasty sections of the Great Wall” in the news report probably refers to the “Nanjing city wall of the Ming Dynasty” that was mentioned by the researchers. I suppose, to some extent, this could be viewed as a form of ‘Orientalism’, where the East is defined based on Western perceptions. One could interpret this stereotyping of China as a relegation of ancient Chinese architectural achievements to just one monument. (To be fair, this misrepresentation is probably the exception, rather than the norm.) Obviously, if the architecture of the USA was only represented by the Statue of Liberty, or that of England by Stonehenge, that wouldn’t do justice to either country now, would it?
Featured image: Xuanwu Gate, one of the city gates of Nanjing. Photo source: Wikimedia
Discovery Communications, 2013. Sticky Rice Made Ancient Mortar Stronger. [Online]
Available at: http://news.discovery.com/history/sticky-rice-ancient-chinese-buildings.htm
[Accessed 21 March 2014].
Luo, Y. & Zhang, Y., 2013. Investigation of Sticky-rice Lime Mortar of the Horse Stopped Wall in Jiange. Heritage Science , 1(26). [Online]
Yang, F., Zhang, B. & Ma, Q., 2010. Study of Sticky Rice−Lime Mortar Technology for the Restoration of Historical Masonry Construction. Accounts of Chemical Research, 43(6), p. 936–944. [Online]
I am a university student doing a BA degree in Archaeology. My interests range from ‘conventional’ to ‘radical’ interpretations of the archaeological/textual/pictorial data set. I believe that intellectual engagement by advocates from both ends of the spectrum would serve to. Read More
The Menehune of Hawaii – Ancient Race or Fictional Fairytale?
In Hawaiian mythology, the Menehune are said to be an ancient race of people small in stature, who lived in Hawaii before settlers arrived from Polynesia. Many scholars attribute ancient structures found on the Hawaiian Islands to the Menehune. However, others have argued that the legends of the Menehune are a post-European contact mythology and that no such race existed.
The mythology of the Menehune is as old as the beginnings of Polynesian history. When the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii, they found dams, fish-ponds, roads, and even temples, all said to have been built by the Menehune who were superb craftspeople. Some of these structures still exist, and the highly-skilled craftsmanship is evident. According to legend, each Menehune was a master of a certain craft and had one special function they accomplished with great precision and expertise. They would set out at dusk to build something in one night, and if this was not achieved, it would be abandoned.
Some scholars, such as folklorist Katharine Luomala, theorize that the Menehune were the first settlers of Hawaii, descendants of the Marquesas islanders who were believed to have first occupied the Hawaiian Islands from around 0 to 350 AD. When the Tahitian invasion occurred in about 1100 AD, the first settlers were subdued by the Tahitians, who referred to the inhabitants as ‘manahune’ (which means ‘lowly people’ or ‘low social status’ and not diminutive in stature). They fled to the mountains and later came to be called ‘Menehune’. Proponents of this theory point to an 1820 census which listed 65 people as Menehune.
Luomala claims that the Menehune are not mentioned in pre-contact mythology and therefore the name does not refer to an ancient race of people. However, this argument holds little weight as most accounts of the past were passed down through word-of-mouth from one generation to the next.
If Luomala, and other scholars in her camp, is correct, and there was no ancient race of skilled craftspeople that predated the Polynesians, then there must be an alternative explanation for the ancient constructions of advanced design, which predated any known population in Hawaii. However, no alternative explanations exist and most history books still maintain that the Polynesians were the first inhabitants of Hawaii, some 1,500 years ago. So let’s examine some of the ancient constructions that have been attributed to the Menehune in the mythology of the region.
Alekoko Fishpond Wall at Niumalu, Kauaʻi
The Alekoko Fishpond, sometimes called the Menehune Fishpond, is one of the finest examples of ancient Hawaiian aquaculture. A lava rock wall between the pond and the Hulei’a River, which is 900 feet (274 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) high, was built to create a dam across a portion of the river in order to trap young fish until they grew large enough to consume. The stones that were used come from Makaweli village, some 25 miles (40 km) away. It is considered to be an unexplained engineering achievement and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Hawaiian legend states that the pond was built in one night by the Menehune, who formed an assembly line from the fishpond location to Makaweli, passing stones one-by-one from start to end point.
The Ceremonial Site of Necker Island
Necker Island is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Few signs of long-term human habitation have been found. However, the island contains 52 archaeological site with 33 ceremonial heiau (basalt upright stones), believed to be celestially oriented, and stone artifacts much like those found in the main Hawaiian Islands. The heiau vary only slightly in design, but generally feature rectangular platforms, courts and upright stones. One of the largest of these ceremonial sites measures 18.6 meters by 8.2 meters. Eleven upright stones, of what are believed to be the original 19, are still standing.
Many anthropologists believe that the island was a ceremonial and religious site. According to the myths and legends of the people of Kauai, which lies to the southeast, Necker Island was the last known refuge for the Menehune. According to the legend, the Menehune settled on Necker after being chased off Kaua'i by the stronger Polynesians and subsequently built the various stone structures there. Visits to the island are said to have started a few hundred years after the main Hawaiian Islands were inhabited, and ended a few hundred years before European contact.
The Kīkīaola Ditch at Waimea, Kauaʻi
Kīkīaola is a historic irrigation ditch located near Waimea on the island of Kauai. Also known as the Menehune Ditch, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1984. Hawaiians built many stone-lined ditches to irrigate ponds for growing taro (kalo), but very rarely employed dressed stone to line ditches. The 120 finely cut basalt blocks that line about 200 feet of the outer wall of the Menehune Ditch make it not just exceptional, but "the acme of stone-faced ditches" in the words of archaeologist Wendell C. Bennett. It is purported to have been built by the Menehune.
To date, no human skeletal remains of a physically small race of people have ever been found on Kaua’I or on any other Hawaiian islands. While this does not disprove that a race of small people existed, it does draw the truth behind the legend into question. Nevertheless, there is compelling evidence, both archaeological and in the numerous legends passed down over generations, that suggests that there was indeed an ancient race of highly skilled people who inhabited the Hawaiian islands long before the Polynesians arrived.
Gobekli Tepe, a 12,000-year-old riddle
Who built it has made colossal efforts to ensure that the monument will survive for thousands of years. The builders used a simple as an idea method, so exhausting to put into practice. They stamped everything with the ground …
Gobekli Tepe was first researched – and then totally ignored – by anthropologists at the University of Chicago and the University of Istanbul in the 1960s. Researchers thought the mound was just an abandoned medieval cemetery.
Archaeologists have spoken, including the theory that Gobekli Tepe was a place of burial. However, there was no tomb found in the area.
Gobekli Tepe is sometimes called “Stonehenge of the Desert”. The complex consists of a series of oval and circular stone structures built on the top of a hill.
Archaeologists believe that the whole complex was built 12,000 years ago. However, they have no explanation for the existence of an advanced culture in Upper Mesopotamia at the end of the last ice age.
It is supposed that, at that time, the planet was inhabited by hunter-gatherer communities trying to survive in very severe climatic conditions.
Since the rediscovery of the Gobekli Tepe complex (after nearly 50 years of abandonment), the first site excavations were made by Professor Klaus Schmidt of the German Institute of Archeology in 1995.
Until now, excavation and geomagnetic analysis results have shown that there are at least 20 temples – circular structures – in the area.
All stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe are built in the shape of the letter “T”. Monoliths have heights between 3 and 6 meters and weigh 60 tons each.
Even with today’s technology, it would be very difficult to move and assemble these monoliths.
Researchers have calculated that about 500 people would have needed to handle these enormous posts.
But in a world of chaos where every “semi-savage” individual struggled to survive, how – and by whom – were these people organized?
It remains a total mystery as to how the ancient people could carry out such a monumental project with all that this effort implied: carving the stone, finishing the strands, transporting and assembling them, and later closing the complex with the earth.
It seems absurd and frustrating, but we do not know anything else about complexity. We only know: someone from the night of history built it, and then buried it.
Archaeologists claim that, in order to complete the Gobekli Tepe project, there were stoned craftsmen, people with knowledge of the transport of heavyweights, planners, and priests, who carried out and supervised rituals.
What kind of rituals? Here’s another unanswered question. This whole system of organization exists 12,000 years ago – proves the Gobekli Tepe complex.
The builders of this magnificent place must have been part of an advanced society with complex hierarchical relationships, but about which we do not know anything today. The theory has been advanced that the “T” -like pillars are stylized human beings, especially since they each depict human extremities (hands, feet).
Besides, there were several strange signs carved on the pillars. These are foxes, snakes, boars, cranes and wild ducks. They appear to be real or mythological animals and stars and planets.
What’s stranger is that some of the artifacts found in the area are very much like ancient objects in South America (Peru, Bolivia), Asia (Indonesia), and Easter Island.
Gobekli Tepe was built very … strange. The first pillars were seated on a straight square platform. A mound of earth was built over them, over which other structures were laid, for two thousand years.
The final layer, which covered everything like a capsule, supports the last stone structures.
These were made more rudimentary than those buried in the earth. As if the first people were more technologically advanced than those who built the last stage of the Gobekli Tepe project.
The irregular, puzzle-shaped walls of blocks weighing more than 20 tons each have a unique style that was thought to be specific to lost civilizations in South America.
The irregular, puzzle-shaped walls of blocks weighing more than 20 tons each have a unique style that was thought to be specific to lost civilizations in South America.
This until similar structures began to be observed in Italy, Easter Island, Egypt, but also in Greece, Albania, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Even if they were built thousands of years and thousands of miles away, the special architectural pattern that all these walls follow is the same, unmistakable.
It is also the most difficult in the world. And that’s because each stone place has to be carved with great precision so that all the pieces fit perfectly, in an absolutely unique layout.
Laboratory tests have shown that such walls resist even the most powerful earthquakes. Moreover, it has been found that if they are subject to seismic shocks, the walls “gather,” all the pieces behave as a unitary, organic ensemble.
Gobekli Tepe is the site of what appears to be the oldest temple in the world. So far. Its antiquity is staggering, enough to leave you gasping for breath. That it is older than the Pyramids of Egypt (earliest date, Pyramid of Djoser, c. 2630 BCE–2611 BCE ) is perhaps not surprising, nor is it all that surprising that it is older than Stonehenge (c. 2400-2200 BC). Yet, that it is as much as 7000 years older than Stonehenge, and of a more sophisticated construction, is enough to cause paroxysms of disbelief. Gobekli Tepe is so old – at least 11,600 years (c. 9500BC) – that it predates agriculture and farming.
Gobekli Tepe, which literally translates as “Potbelly Hill”, sits atop a mountain ridge in south-eastern Anatolia. The site, which was first identified as Neolithic by Professor Dr. Klaus Schmidt in 1994 (initially it had been dismissed as a Byzantine graveyard), consists of a series of dry-stone rings, roughly 20-22, ranging from 10 to 30 metres in diameter, with T-shaped limestone pillars both inset into the walls at regular intervals, or free-standing in the centre of the circles. The stone circles also typically have a walled passageway leading from them, giving them a saucepan-like shape. The pillars, the tallest of which are 6 metres high, have been carefully shaped and decorated with images of animals and insects: snakes, foxes, boars, sco rpions and gazelles.
The stone circles cover an extensive area – roughly 300 square metres, much of which is yet to be excavated, but which has been shown, through ground piercing radar and magnetic resonance imaging to contain further structures. Whilst the earliest radio-carbon date is c. 9500 BC, other areas of the site could be considerably older – as much as three to four thousand years older. A great deal of stone and flint tools and animal remains have been found at the site – but no signs of permanent habitation. As yet no burials have been discovered, nor any evidence of wealth or social status differentiation – such as high status ornaments. The archaeological evidence points to this site not as a permanent settlement, but as a place used by hunter-gatherer communities, which most likely served a ritual, communal function, possible as a sort of pilgrimage site for local tribal groups.
What makes this site so fascinating is that it significantly challenges established ideas about the origins of civilization and urban society. Traditionally it had been believed that the domestication and corralling of animals, along with the development of agriculture and farming, led people to settle more permanently in areas and thus to the development of towns.
Not only does Gobekli Tepe predate the earliest archaeological evidence we have for organised farming, but it does so by almost 1500 years, and possible considerably more. This suggests that it was, in effect, ritual practice of some kind – (the role and function of these buildings is still open to speculation, however much they might resemble temples) which initially brought people together in more permanent communities. Some scholars have even suggested that agriculture itself might be an off-shoot of this kind of centralised religious activity. The consumption of wild grain at sites such as Gobekli Tepe may have induced a proliferation of edible grasses around the site, thus sparking an attempt to harvest this resource in a more planned fashion.
The site also challenges ideas about the capacity for people to organise and carry out work on this scale during this period. Traditionally, town or village-based urban civilization has been seen as a prerequisite for this scale of building activity, on account of the need to organise and feed a considerable work-force. In hunter gatherer societies, without grain storage or food surpluses, it was assumed that it was not possible to dedicate the time and labour to something so superfluous to survival. The freeing of people from the need to hunt and gather was understood to be a product of organised town or village life, in which roles were able to diversify and agricultural surpluses could support other activities. The construction of the largest structure at Gobekli Tepe, which is estimated to have required a bare minimum of fifty dedicated labourers, has significantly challenged this established model.
One curious aspect of the site is its historical progression and transformation. Over time the stone rings were buried, with new rings erected over and beside the old, each of which was successively smaller than what came before. This gradual reduction in size might represent either a decline in the capacity to build such structures, or a declining interest in maintaining structures of such magnitude at this particular site, the importance of which might have waned.
This latter point makes more sense when we consider the local context. Lying roughly 30 kilometres north of Gobekli Tepe, and now submerged beneath the dammed waters of the Euphrates River, is the site of Nevalı Çori, a Neolithic village, the earliest radio carbon date for which – somewhat speculatory – is the middle of the 10th millennium BC. More definite dates place Layer II – its second construction phase – in the second half of the 9th millennium BC – more than a thousand years after the earliest known construction phases on Gobekli Tepe, but still within the period known by the acronym PPNB – Pre-Pottery Neolithic B.
The excavated architectural remains at Nevalı Çori consisted of long rectangular houses containing two to three parallel flights of rooms. Attached to these were a similarly rectangular structure subdivided by wall projections, likely residential space. As fascinating as these early pre-agricultural, pre-pottery settlements are in themselves, what is most striking for our understanding of Gobekli Tepe is the presence of what appears to be a temple / cult complex cut into the hillside. This consisted of a square space with monolithic pillars similar to those at Göbekli Tepe built into its dry stone walls, and two free-standing pillars, each three metres tall, in the centre. The pillars were carved with images very similar to those at Gobekli Tepe and appear to be a part of the same cultural milieu. Some archaeologists have speculated that the construction of local temple sites in emerging villages reduced the importance of the site of Gobekli Tepe, with religious practice becoming more focussed on local village structures.
Further excavations will ultimately shed more light on this important period in human development. Gobekli Tepe may yet reveal itself as a settlement, not just a meeting place for ritual. Even its function as a ritual centre is uncertain owing to the difficulty in understanding the beliefs and motivations of people so remote. Were the stone circles at Gobekli Tepe meeting places, schools, markets, dining halls or even an arena of sorts? Professor Schmidt, who has been excavating the site continuously since its discovery, considers Göbekli Tepe a central location for a cult of the dead. He believes the carved animals were there to protect the dead. Despite the absence of tombs or graves, Schmidt thinks that they remain to be discovered in niches located behind the sacred circles’ walls. Either way, whatever their function, they mark the first known attempts at monumental architecture, placing the revolution of “civilization” much closer to the end of the last ice-age then previously thought.
Gobekli Tepe and Nevalı Çori are by no means the only contemporaneous sites in the region. Others include the so-called tower of Jericho – a tall, conical structure with an internal staircase, roughly 11,000 years old Tell’Abr, a village characterised by central, communal storage buildings, also roughly 11,000 years old, Jerf el-Ahmar, an 11,200 year old village with large communal buildings and Wadi Faynan, another village with communal buildings dating to roughly 11600 years ago. The emergence of these settlements in the wake of the last ice-age, c. 13000 years ago, is reminiscent of the Cambrian explosion of bio-diversity in the wake of the last Snowball Earth period. It appears that as the environment changed, ever-adaptable humans began to fill available niches and make use of more abundant resources. Perhaps the transition to villages and sites like Gobekli Tepe marks an attempt to recreate the centralised activity of cave-dwelling, though this rather keenly assumes these people were in fact transitioning from cave-dwelling, rather than altering an already open, nomadic lifestyle.
Recent studies in which ancient strains of grain and grass were grown in different levels of carbon dioxide – representing those of the last ice-age, and those of today – produced astonishing results. In the case of wheat and barley, the heads fattened up to and beyond double the size of those in grown in ice-age conditions. Was it as much the availability of this newly rich food source, along with the abundance of animals that drew people to this region in the first place? Was it the sheer abundance of food that allowed them to remain largely in the one area, rather than needing to forage more widely? Whilst we cannot identify evidence of organised farming and agriculture, it is almost certainly the case that people were harvesting wild grains prior to this development. Were Neolithic people storing wild grain in their communal buildings? As mentioned above, perhaps agriculture, and indeed, animal husbandry, came about as an offshoot of other, centralised activity. Whether that activity was religious or otherwise is uncertain, but the nature of sites like Gobekli Tepe certainly suggest a ritual purpose.
Professor Schmidt estimates another fifty years of work are required to unearth most of Gobekli Tepe’s secrets. This ongoing work may push the date back further, and may yet reveal further monumental structures buried beneath the hill. Other sites may yet be discovered, offering further insights into this fascinating period of human history. Whatever the case, it seems civilisation is a lot older than we originally thought, and may be older still – a more direct consequence of the end of the last ice-age than previously believed.
Disclaimer: These images are not my own, but come from various sources freely available on the web
That Ancient Indonesian Pyramid Believed to Be 11,000 Years Older Than Göbekli Tepe Has Been “Discovered” Again - History
Going back to Göbekli Tepe finds us looking at a site comprised of 20 or more circles of stones, all following a common design. The circles are made up of limestone pillars shaped like capital T’s. They are big, with the tallest measuring 18 feet and 16 tons. They are thin, about five times as wide as they are deep. They stand close together, a body length or so apart from each other, and are interconnected by low stone walls. In the middle of each ring are two taller pillars standing in shallow grooves cut into the floor.
For whatever reason they were first built, they kept rebuilding them. Excavation revealed that every few decades the standing stones were buried, and new ones raised. This is how we end up with 20 or more circles. Each time a new cicle was raised, they sometimes put a smaller one inside, and occasionally even a third one inside that. Fast forward a few years, and it all got filled again, and some new circles were raised. It appears to have happened this way for centuries.
You would think that over time, the circles would get better. You know, as they learned better building and carving techniques the stones would become more elaborate, the carvings more descriptive. But no. If anything, they got worse at doing it. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. Over time, they got smaller, simpler, and more hastily built. Then somewhere around 8200 BCE, they gave up altogether.
Mysterious. Yet compelling. Why were the stone circles built in the first place?
It’s truly amazing their sites like this all over the world that are unexplained and way out date history as we know it or taught in school
It’s truly amazing their sites like this all over the world that are unexplained and way out date history as we know it or taught in school
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Dating back to 3600 BC and 700 BC, the Megalithic Temples of Malta are considered to be the oldest free-standing structures on earth. The temples were built during three phases of cultural revolution – Ġgantija (3600-3200BC), Saflieni (3300-3000BC) and Tarxien (3150BC-2500BC).
Ancient Kauri is a unique material with an amazing beauty and intriguing history. It is commonly regarded as the oldest wood available in the world. Ancient Kauri has been buried underground in New Zealand for approximately 50,000 years, yet it is as workable as newly-harvested wood.
What is Gobekli Tepe?
- Really big. Made up of more than 200 megalithic pillars weighing 10-20 tons each placed in 20 circles
- Really old. Carbon dating shows it’s from 11,000 BCE, just after the last ice age. That’s 7,000 years before pyramids, 6,000 years before writing, before civilization began, before Stonehenge was built, before culture was supposed to exist!
- Hundreds of thousands of animal bones, mostly gazelle, and boar, sheep, deer, and other birds which appear to have been butchered and cooked which his suggests hunter- gatherer behavior, not agricultural (Curry, 2008)
- Nearby the site, research has shown evidence of farming behavior dating to 10,500 years ago (Curry, 2008)
- Anthropomorphic carvings on the pillars of scary looking creatures like spiders, vultures, lions, snakes, and scorpions.
Below is a quick TedTalk from 2014 by Gobekli Tepe discoverer, Klaus Schmidt, just weeks before he died. A good introduction to Gobekli Tepe:
So, this site is home to the oldest megaliths and the oldest temple that we’ve ever discovered, and it upends the long accepted idea we had about human history that people were hunter- gatherers then farmers then civilizations emerged. And it also shows that all this was happening much earlier than we had thought. But it gets even stranger…
Evidence from the carvings, made on a pillar known as the Vulture Stone, suggests that a swarm of comet fragments hit the Earth in around 11000 BC. The different symbols, said to tell the story, are labeled in the graphic above
But the ice-cold conditions created by the impact forced these hunters to band together and find new ways to grow crops.
They developed watering and selective breeding to help their crops last against the harsh climate, forming modern farming practices.
The carvings appear to have remained important to the people of Gobekli Tepe for millennia, the Edinburgh researchers said.
This suggests that the event and cold climate that followed likely had a serious impact.
The comet's impact killed thousands of people and triggered a mini ice age that lasted more than 1,000 years. Pictured is a replica of the Vulture Stone at Sanliurfa Museum in Turkey
By interpreting the animals as astronomical symbols, and using computer software to match their positions to patterns of stars, researchers dated the event to 10,950BC. This image shows the position of the sun and stars on the summer solstice of 10,950BC
The team suggest the images were intended as a record of the cataclysmic event.
A further carving showing a headless man may indicate human disaster and extensive loss of life, they said.
Furthermore, symbolism on the pillars indicates that the long-term changes in Earth's rotational axis was recorded at this time using an early form of writing.
The symbolism suggests that Gȍbekli Tepe was an observatory for meteors and comets.
The find supports a theory that Earth is likely to experience periods when comet strikes are more likely, owing to Earth's orbit intersecting orbiting rings of comet fragments in space.
Stone pillars at Gobleki Tepe, thought to be the world's oldest temple site. Scientists have speculated for decades that a comet could have caused the sharp drop in temperature during a period known as the Younger Dryas around 11,000BC
More stone pillars found at the Gobleki Tepe temple site. The Younger Dryas is seen as a crucial period in humanity's history as it coincides with the beginnings of agriculture and the first Neolithic civilisations
Dr Martin Sweatman, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering, who led the research, said: 'I think this research, along with the recent finding of a widespread platinum anomaly across the North American continent, virtually seal the case in favour of (a Younger Dryas comet impact).
'Our work serves to reinforce that physical evidence. What is happening here is the process of paradigm change.
'It appears Göbekli Tepe was, among other things, an observatory for monitoring the night sky.
'One of its pillars seems to have served as a memorial to this devastating event – probably the worst day in history since the end of the ice age.'
Scientists were analysing the mysterious symbols carved onto stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey to find out if they could be linked to constellations
The find supports a theory that Earth is likely to experience periods when comet strikes are more likely, owing to Earth's orbit intersecting orbiting rings of comet fragments in space (stock image)